Todd Blackledge Shares Journey To Broadcast Booth During ‘Football Fridays’ Speaking Event
Former Penn State quarterback and current lead analyst for NBC’s “Big Ten Saturday Night” Todd Blackledge kicked off the new “Football Fridays” speaker series Friday in Carnegie Cinema.
“Football Fridays” is a new on-campus question-and-answer series hosted by the Bellisario College of Communications that will take place on the eve of each home Penn State football game.
Blackledge shared his weekly routine, gave advice to aspiring broadcasters, and even shared some stories about his playing days during the hour-long event.
Blackledge said the majority of his time during game week is spent getting to know the two teams he’ll be analyzing come Saturday, but the real preparation begins much earlier.
“All through the spring and summer I try to do a lot of reading and try to read current articles on the big picture of college football,” Blackledge said. “Once I knew I was going to be on NBC, I really became Big Ten-centric.”
Before departing his home in Charlotte, North Carolina, Blackledge attends a Thursday Zoom call with visiting players and coaches. Then, once he arrives on campus, he attends a home team practice and chats with the home team, too.
He’s eager to start working with Noah Eagle and Kathryn Tappen for this year’s broadcasts, even though he’s never shared a booth with Eagle before.
“I’m 62 years old, and Noah is 25 years old, so it’s gonna be an interesting combination,” Blackledge said. “He’s mature beyond his years and he’s very, very talented.”
After going through the ins and outs of the broadcasting business, Blackledge shared some stories from throughout his playing days.
He most notably led the Nittany Lions to a national championship in 1982, throwing for 228 yards and one touchdown en route to a 27-23 victory over Georgia. Even though Blackledge threw a 47-yard bomb to Gregg Garrity for the Nittany Lions’ final touchdown that night, Blackledge says it’s not the game he remembers most.
“Gregg Garrity and I are the last two guys to finish with the media, get in the locker room, get a shower and get dressed,” Blackledge said. “[Garrity’s] got the game ball and I’ve got the MVP trophy and we go to walk out and the busses had all left.”
Blackledge was faced with a choice, wait for the equipment truck to take them back to the hotel in an hour and miss the afterparty, or hitchhike through downtown New Orleans at midnight on New Year’s Day.
The duo ended up getting a ride to the team hotel from a passing Tennessee fan a few blocks from the stadium. Years later, Blackledge helped that same fan secure tickets to the game when the Volunteers appeared in a national championship game.
Blackledge then turned his attention to the elephant in the room: this year’s Nittany Lions team.
“Penn State should win, because they are the better team,” Blackledge said. “However, West Virginia is not going to be a pushover.”
Like many, Blackledge shares the sentiment that Penn State could be tough to beat this year, while also poking fun at James Franklin for not naming a starting quarterback prior to Saturday’s contest.
“I would say that this is James Franklin’s most talented roster yet,” Blackledge said. “Their offensive line is as good as it’s been, they’ve got two outstanding young running backs, and the young quarterback, if he starts tomorrow.”
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